The attempt to enlist Oklahoma in the National Popular Vote agreement, a left-wing attempt to subvert the constitutional method for electing the president, is back. In 2014, NPV legislation was rushed through the State Senate. Legislators were invited to junkets in tropical locations and other favorite vacation spots to discuss National Popular Vote. Lobbyists found emotionally resonant arguments and were able to get senators to make binding promises . Thus they won the vote on the floor of the State Senate. Within days, several senators had recanted their support, following an outpouring of anger from conservative grassroots activists, Republican party leaders, and conservative think tanks. The State House never took up the bill, which expired with the sine die adjournment of the legislature.
In previous entries, I've explained why NPV is a bad idea -- it undermines our Constitution, allows voter fraud in one state to affect the presidential result everywhere, and disconnects Oklahoma's popular vote result from the allocation of Oklahoma's electors. The Republican National Committee unanimously condemned the proposal. The libertarian Cato Institute and conservative Heritage Foundation and Eagle Forum oppose National Popular Vote, as does the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs. The Oklahoma Republican Party's platform has opposed the idea for years.
Despite the defeat, the leftists behind NPV continued their campaign. Local GOP consultants and sometime candidates Darren Gantz and David Tackett set up meetings between out-of-state NPV lobbyists and conservative grassroots activists. Legislators were invited on at least one more NPV junket -- Christmas season in New York City.
Lame-duck State Rep. Lee Denney, who also serves as speaker pro tempore, is the sponsor of this session's NPV bill. But what is going to happen on Wednesday is sneaky and underhanded.
HB 1686, the bill Denney filed to have Oklahoma join the NPV agreement, was sent to the Rules Committee. Another bill, HB 1813, was assigned to the Elections and Ethics Committee. Authored by Democrat Rep. Eric Proctor, HB 1813 originally dealt with ballot access for political parties, but the entire text of his bill has now been replaced by text from Denney's HB 1686 committing Oklahoma to the National Popular Vote. On Wednesday morning, February 25, 2015, the Elections and Ethics Committee will consider the bill.
This rush to committee is reminiscent of the speed with which the bill was rushed through the State Senate. NPV supporters seem to be hoping to sneak this through once again, before grassroots activists hear about it.
Here is a list of committee members. I encourage you to contact the members directly to urge their swift defeat of this measure:
Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, chair - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Donnie Condit, vice chair - email@example.com
Rep. Gary Banz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. David Dank - email@example.com
Rep. Charlie Joyner - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. David Perryman - email@example.com
Rep. Michael Rogers - firstname.lastname@example.org
I also urge you to ask your Republican member of the State House to remove Lee Denney from her leadership position as Speaker Pro Tempore. There ought to be consequences for anyone who supports this betrayal of constitutional principles.
UPDATE: At the committee meeting, Rep. Denney laid over her bill, HB 1813. Chairman Wesselhoft expressed sympathy for her tough decision and said that the committee would remain the custodian of the bill, which could be heard next year if she wanted to bring it forward. According to State Rep. Glen Mulready, the committee chairman could not have forced a vote on the bill after the author laid it over. Because this was the last opportunity for a bill originating in the House to move out of committee, this particular bill is dead for this session.
Here is a direct link to the audio for the Elections and Ethics Committee meeting February 25, 2015. The chairman doesn't speak until 7:24 -- it's all background chatter before that.
NPV opponents cannot relax, however. This particular bill could get a committee hearing and a vote on short notice next session, still in time to affect Oklahoma's 2016 electoral votes. The NPV lobbyists are relentless, and I expect that they will continue to look for ways to woo legislators and activists.
There is also the possibility that the language could be inserted into a bill this year through the remainder of the legislative process -- possibly as a committee substitute for a bill that originated in the other house, possibly in a conference committee.
NPV opponents should continue to press legislators to declare their intentions on this proposal, regardless of the bill number to which it gets attached. Because it is an interstate compact (as they called it last year) or (as they're now calling it) an agreement among the states, the states all must adopt the same language. It is what it is. There's no possibility that the bill could be "improved" in the legislative process. So there's no good reason for a legislator to be agnostic about how he or she would vote. The NPV proposal is well-defined and unamendable, and conservative voices in Oklahoma and nationwide are unanimously in opposition. When the State Senate passed the NPV compact bill in 2014, lefty blogs cheered and conservative websites mourned. If a self-described conservative legislator is hesitant to take a stand on this issue, I'd hesitate to trust them on any other issue or for any elective office.
ADDED at the top because of its valuable info:
On September 11, 2001, there were only a few professional historians of the Crusades in America. I was the one who was not retired. As a result, my phone began ringing and didn't stop for years. In the hundreds of interviews I have given since that terrible day, the most common question has been, "How did the Crusades lead to the terrorist attacks against the West today?" I always answered: "They did not. The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism."
That answer has never gone over well. It seems counterintuitive. If the West sent Crusaders to attack Muslims throughout the Middle Ages, haven't they a right to be upset? If the Crusades spawned anti-Western jihads, isn't it reasonable to see them as the root cause of the current jihads? The answer is no, but to understand it requires more than the scant minutes journalists are usually willing to spare. It requires a grasp not only of the Crusades but of the ways those wars have been exploited and distorted for modern agendas....
It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe's lacklands and ne'er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed "turn the other cheek" into "kill them all; God will know his own."
Every word of this is wrong. Historians of the Crusades have long known that it is wrong, but they find it extraordinarily difficult to be heard across a chasm of entrenched preconceptions. For on the other side is, as Riley-Smith puts it "nearly everyone else, from leading churchmen and scholars in other fields to the general public." ...
Riley-Smith describes the profound effect that Sir Walter Scott's novel The Talisman had on European and therefore Middle Eastern opinion of the Crusades. Crusaders such as Richard the Lionhearted were portrayed as boorish, brutal, and childish, while Muslims, particularly Saladin, were tolerant and enlightened gentlemen of the nineteenth century. With the collapse of Ottoman power and the rise of Arab nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century, Muslims bound together these two strands of Crusade narrative and created a new memory in which the Crusades were only the first part of Europe's assault on Islam--an assault that continued through the modern imperialism of European powers. Europeans reintroduced Saladin, who had been nearly forgotten in the Middle East, and Arab nationalists then cleansed him of his Kurdish ethnicity to create a new anti-Western hero. We saw the result during the run-up to the Iraq War, when Saddam Hussein portrayed himself as a new Saladin who would expel the new Crusaders.
So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression--an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.
Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity--and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion--has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.
With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed's death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt--once the most heavily Christian areas in the world--quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.
That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
Bobby Jindal on Friday released a statement responding to the president's remarks on Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast in which he cautioned Americans from getting on a "high horse" when taking a stance against radical Islam because people have committed "terrible deeds" in the name of Christianity, too.
"It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast," Jindal said. "Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today."
But Obama doesn't deliver that; Obama delivers the same low-IQ, trite, Marxism for Dummies sh** that all glittering mediocrities like himself traffic in, for they can not manage any better.
Charles Krauthammer makes this point, mostly, when he says Obama's remarks were simultaneously "banal and offensive," and says further that these remarks are "adolescent."
Indeed. These are the Deep Thoughts of the Fourteen Year Old.
But I would go one step further. All fourteen year olds are not alike; some are clever and bookish and and full of interesting ideas (if not yet any wisdom).
And some are rather dull-witted and just want to sound like they may be clever. And these slow-witted 14-year-olds tend to just repeat, in a twittering high pitched pre-pubescent voice, a dumbed-down version of Recieved Wisdom they've heard from "Cool Adults."
All the "Cool Adults" the adolescent Obama knew were radicals and communists, and he has done far more pot than thinking since he heard these banal cliches, so what you're hearing is Obama straining to remember, through a pottish haze, what his dull 14-year-old boy brain heard from his communist benefactors in the late sixties and early seventies.
Tulsa County Republicans will meet in precinct caucuses this Saturday, January 31, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. the first step in the biennial process to elect state, county, and precinct party officials and to determine the party platform.
Most Tulsa County precincts will meet at central locations within their State House districts. The gathered precincts will go through certain preliminaries as a group, then break up into individual precinct caucuses to elect leaders and vote on resolutions to be forwarded to the county and state conventions for inclusion in the platform. The tulsagop.org website has the list of caucus locations and answers to frequently-asked questions about the process.
These House district locations were developed as a convenience for precinct officials and delegates. Some precinct chairmen may prefer not to host strangers in their home, and some delegates may feel more at ease in meeting people they don't know in a public place rather than someone's home. Some precincts have no officials currently, and a central meeting place gives interested newcomers a place to go and get things restarted. The central locations also provide an opportunity to meet fellow activists from nearby neighborhoods in a less crowded environment than the county convention.
At least one precinct has opted out of the central-meeting approach, and a few precincts have shifted their meeting place to a central meeting location closer than the designated place for their House district. Whatever the case, your precinct location should be posted on the door of your regular voting location by Saturday morning.
James Madison, writing to George Turberville, 2 November 1788, about the prospect of another Constitutional Convention before the ink was dry on the 1787 Constitution:
"You wish to know my sentiments on the project of another general Convention as suggested by New York. I shall give them to you with great frankness . . .
3. If a General Convention were to take place for the avowed and sole purpose of revising the Constitution, it would naturally consider itself as having a greater latitude than the Congress appointed to administer and support as well as to amend the system; it would consequently give greater agitation to the public mind; an election into it would be courted by the most violent partizans on both sides; it wd. probably consist of the most heterogeneous characters; would be the very focus of that flame which has already too much heated men of all parties; would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who under the mask of seeking alterations popular in some parts but inadmissible in other parts of the Union might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundations of the fabric. Under all these circumstances it seems scarcely to be presumeable that the deliberations of the body could be conducted in harmony, or terminate in the general good. Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of America, and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned. . . .
Retired Chief Justice Warren Burger, writing in 1988, during his service as chairman of the Commission of the Bicentennial of the U. S. Constitution:
I have repeatedly given my opinion that there is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda. Congress might try to limit the Convention to one amendment or to one issue, but there is no way to assure that the Convention would obey. After a Convention is convened, it would be too late to stop the Convention if we don't like its agenda...Our 1787 Constitution was referred by several of its authors as a 'miracle.' Whatever gain might be hoped for from a new Constitutional Convention could not be worth the risks involved....
Eagle Forum has a section of its website devoted to the problems with a proposed Article V Convention (sometimes called a "Convention of the States").
Our 1787 Convention was developed by men who were classically educated and immersed in a culture suffused with the teaching of Scripture. The Great Awakening had produced a revival of religion and a reformation of manners throughout the American States. The Framers of the Constitution understood the innate dignity of man and his innate depravity. They read the ancient historians on the strengths and weaknesses of Athenian democracy. They read histories and contemporaneous accounts of the rise of the Roman Republic and its decline into dictatorship and empire. The evolution of Britain's constitutional monarchy and her brief experiment with republicanism was in the not-too-distant past.
Anyone seriously believe that a new Constitutional convention would be populated by delegates with the same depth of education and capacity for complex thought?
We have judges who are quite happy to twist constitutional language to suit the social and political aims of the Cultural Revolution. How will more words stop them? We have senators who won't block judges of the aforementioned type, out of fear of being thought judgmental and obstructionist. We have citizens who twice elected a President who had described his purpose as "fundamentally transforming the United States of America." What kind of men and women will they elect to a Constitutional Convention?
Happy National Handwriting Day! January 23rd was so designated because it's the birthday of John Hancock, president of the Second Continental Congress, whose bold signature graces our Declaration of Independence and became an eponym for a signature.
Cursive handwriting is a rarity anymore. I learned it in 4th grade, when it was still commonplace. As I remember it, it was a year-long process, and certain letters were just weird. Within a few years, I had given up on cursive and wrote in a somewhat slanted manuscript that wasn't joined up. By the time my kids learned it in school, we were told that many other schools had dropped cursive in favor of spending classroom time on other subjects. Many of today's teachers never learned cursive, much less learned how to teach it.
But now a Tulsa educator has come up with a way for students to reap the benefits of learning cursive with a much smaller investment of time.
Some time ago, an adult literacy student asked his teacher, Linda Shrewsbury (pictured above), to teach him cursive so he could learn to sign his name. She realized that the traditional letter-by-letter elementary school approach would be frustrating for an adult student, so she looked for a more streamlined approach. Writing the lower-case cursive alphabet out on a large sheet, she noticed four common patterns -- ovals, loops, swings, and mounds. Master the four patterns and you could quickly learn to combine them to form the entire alphabet.
When I explained the patterns to Josh, his response was intuitive and fast. He caught on to forming the entire lowercase alphabet in 45 minutes and became so enthusiastic about his success that learning his uppercase initials was easy. After just one session, Josh signed his name.
After teaching more students from many different background all with similar results, I realized I was onto something--a greatly simplified way to help students master cursive handwriting. CursiveLogic's process teaches the entire lowercase alphabet in four lessons, greatly shortening the time required to master cursive handwriting.
Shrewsbury, who homeschooled her children and has taught in various settings from 1st grade to college, teamed up with her daughter Prisca LeCroy (who homeschools her children in Dallas) to turn this approach into a full-fledged curriculum, called CursiveLogic.
A small number of prototype copies of the student workbook have been printed, but Cursive Logic has launched a $25,000 Kickstarter project to fund a full commercial print run of student workbooks and teacher manuals and, if enough funds are raised, to develop instructional videos. The project has been honored as a "Kickstarter Staff Pick."
Is learning cursive just good for signing checks and contracts? Dr. William Klemm, Senior Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University, wrote in a Psychology Today blog entry, that cursive has benefits for brain development:
Yet scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn "functional specialization"--that is, the capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of brain become co-activated during the learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice....
The benefits to brain development are similar to what you get with learning to play a musical instrument. Not everybody can afford music lessons, but everybody has access to pencil and paper. Not everybody can afford a computer for their kids--but maybe such kids are not as deprived as we would think.
Prof. Klemm recently reviewed the CursiveLogic curriculum and was delighted:
Learning cursive provides crucial benefit to children at an age when they need it most: a sense of involvement and ownership, hand-eye coordination, patience, and self-control.
Now comes a short manual, "Cursive Logic" by Linda Shrewsbury that shows teachers and parents how to teach cursive the way it was done when I was a kid. I recognize many of the key elements that I learned from my 7th grade penmanship teacher: the proper way to hold a pencil, the role of forearm movement, and the need for deliberate practice on ruled paper. But this manual has an important innovation: a logic that groups the alphabet into four shape categories that share certain common movements.
I hope this book can keep cursive in the school curriculum. Educators no longer have the excuse that cursive is too hard to learn and that they can't find teachers who can teach it. Write on!
Perhaps you'd like to teach yourself or a loved one cursive using the CursiveLogic method. The only way to get a copy of the workbook is to help fund its printing through Kickstarter. For donations starting at $25, the reward includes a copy of the workbook, with more copies at higher donation levels. From $500 and up, you get a piece of a page in the first 10,000 copies printed for your own "tribute to the cursive tradition." As with all Kickstarter projects, pledges are only collected if the full amount is pledged. CursiveLogic is seeking $25,000 in pledges by February 19; they're already over a quarter of the way toward their goal.
Tonight, Thursday, January 22, 2015, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) will present the second in a series of programs on the fundamental principles undergirding liberty and the rule of law: "Why States Matter." The program will be held at the Herman and Kate Kaiser branch of the Tulsa Library. The library is in the northeast part of LaFortune Park, on Hudson just south of 51st Street.
The American Founders invented "federalism." Learn what federalism is, how it became part of the Constitution, and what has happened to it over the last century. Also, find out how we can use what is left of federalism to revive this key constitutional structure.
This is the second in OCPA's four-part series, The Rule of Law and Liberty. (View our first program online: The Rule of Law and Liberty: Why the Constitution matters.) Our programs in January and February will also feature a briefing on the upcoming Oklahoma legislative session.
For more information or to register by phone, call 405-602-1667.
Trent England, who designed and presents The Rule of Law and Liberty, is OCPA's David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow for the Advancement of Liberty. Formerly with the Freedom Foundation in Washington state and The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Trent has written and spoken across the country on constitutional law and history.
Tulsa Community College has for several years offered a program to Tulsa County high school graduates called Tulsa Achieves: Free tuition and fees for up to 63 credit hours or three years, which ever comes first. To qualify, you have to have a C average or better in high school and enroll in TCC for the fall after you graduate.
These scholarships are primarily funded by the property taxpayers of Tulsa County and the sales and income taxpayers of Oklahoma out of the TCC budget:
The FY 14 budget includes the following components: approximately 34.4 percent from local appropriations; 32 percent from state appropriations; 31.6 percent from tuition and fees; and 2 percent from grants and other sources.
So the same families that send their young adults to TCC on a Tulsa Achieves scholarship are paying the property taxes (either directly as owners or indirectly as renters) and sales taxes to fund the scholarship. The same board of directors that pays for the scholarships are also in control of institutional costs. If the board were to allow spending to spiral out of control, the same people would have to decide whether to make up the difference by cutting the number or scope of Tulsa Achieves scholarships, raising tuition, or seeking outside funding. Raise tuition or cut scholarships too much, and students drop out. There's no disconnect between funding and spending, and that creates an incentive to keep costs under control.
President Obama has proposed federal funding to cover all community college tuition. I haven't seen a description of the funding formula, but the effect is almost certain to be the same as any situation in which a third party is paying the bill.
Right now TCC tuition plus fees is about $130 per credit hour, not counting flat fees on top of that. 30 credit hours per year is roughly what you'd need to take in order to graduate in two years with an associate's degree. So for the sake of example let's round it off to an even $4000 per academic year in tuition and fees.
So the federal government comes along and says we'll cover community college tuition and fees for qualified high school graduates. TCC would realize that they could phase out the Tulsa Achieves program or end it altogether. They wouldn't lose any students because the net cost to the student will remain the same, but now TCC would have an extra $4000 a year per student to play with. They could raise salaries, increase administrative perks, pay for more conference travel, build fancier facilities.
Then, suppose TCC should raise tuition and fees from $4000 to $5000 -- a 20% jump and far faster than the rate of inflation. A few adult learners may yelp, but not much, since they're only taking a course or two, not a full load. The students who qualify for free tuition from the federal government won't feel it at all. And now TCC would have even more money to spend on salaries, perks, travel, and facilities. They would regard it as "other people's money," even though it's really money ultimately but indirectly coming from Tulsa taxpayers and from the grandchildren who will have to repay the money the feds borrowed to fund "free" community college.
With a federal guarantee of free community college, would there be any pressure on TCC to control costs? No. If the federal government tried to limit reimbursement under the program to the original tuition baseline, there would be protests that the government is going back on its promise of free tuition.
I don't know how many Tulsa Achieves students have attained two-year degrees or gone on to four-year degrees. I don't know how many of those students would not have received a degree without the help of Tulsa Achieves. But I do know that Tulsa County residents are getting more educational opportunity for their tax dollars because the same board that determines the scope and size of the grants also has to account for the cost that those grants have to cover.
MORE: The New York Times' David Brooks points out that retention is a much bigger problem than tuition cost for underprivileged students trying to get an education:
The problem is that getting students to enroll is neither hard nor important. The important task is to help students graduate. Community college drop out rates now hover somewhere between 66 percent and 80 percent.
Spending $60 billion over 10 years to make community college free will do little to reduce that. In the first place, community college is already free for most poor and working-class students who qualify for Pell grants and other aid. In 2012, 38 percent of community-college students had their tuition covered entirely by grant aid and an additional 33 percent had fees of less than $1,000.
The Obama plan would largely be a subsidy for the middle- and upper-middle-class students who are now paying tuition and who could afford to pay it in the years ahead....
In short, you wouldn't write government checks for tuition. You'd strengthen structures around the schools. You'd focus on the lived environment of actual students and create relationships and cushions to help them thrive.
We've had two generations of human capital policies. Human Capital 1.0 was designed to give people access to schools and other facilities. It was based on the 1970s liberal orthodoxy that poor people just need more money, that the government could write checks and mobility will improve.
Human Capital 2.0 is designed to help people not just enroll but to complete school and thrive. Its based on a much more sophisticated understanding of how people actually live, on the importance of social capital, on the difficulty of living in disorganized circumstances. The new research emphasizes noncognitive skills -- motivation, grit and attachment -- and how to use policy levers to boost these things.
The tuition piece of the Obama proposal is Human Capital 1.0. It is locked in 1970s liberal orthodoxy. Congress should take the proposal, scrap it and rededicate the money toward programs that will actually boost completion, that will surround colleges, students and their families with supporting structures. We don't need another program that will lure students into colleges only to have them struggle and drop out.
Brooks mentions several specific challenges:
Community colleges are not sticky places. Many students don't have intimate relationships with anyone who can guide them through the maze of registration, who might help bond them to campus....
A quarter of college students nationwide have dependent children. Even more students at community colleges do. Less than half of community colleges now have any day-care facilities. Many students drop out because something happens at home and there's no one to take care of the kids.
My late mother-in-law, Marjorie Marugg-Wolfe, saw this need many years ago when she began working with "displaced homemakers" -- women who found themselves suddenly widowed or divorced and in need of a job. She founded the Benton County, Arkansas, Single Parent Scholarship Fund and helped begin similar funds statewide and nationwide. The fund helps with costs beyond tuition -- it may be books, childcare, or car repairs -- anything that might otherwise force a student to drop out. The aid is provided in the context of relationships with mentors and peers. Because the funds are raised and distributed by a private organization, funds are distributed according to compassionate judgment rather than rigid rules. Thousands of students in Benton County have been helped since the program's inception.
Rather than spend money our federal government would have to borrow and establish another federal bureaucracy, it would be better for state and local higher education officials to encourage more of these private scholarship funds to be established.
If you've driven down Lewis Avenue between 51st and 61st Street in the last week, you might have been as surprised as I was to see a church in that part of town advertising its 100th anniversary. Southern Hills Baptist Church doesn't look a day over 60, and indeed it was in 1955 that the church moved to its current location, about the time that US 66 was rerouted to Skelly Drive just north of 51st and Tulsa's southward suburban spread reached this area. The church's history is a reminder of the rural communities -- shops, churches, and homes clustered around a rural schoolhouse, acting as a nucleus for a farming community -- that were absorbed by the expanding city and in some cases erased from the map.
According to the Southern Hills Baptist Church website:
Southern Hills Baptist Church was founded January 17, 1915 as Bethel Baptist Church following a meeting of the delegates of First Baptist Church of Tulsa, OK who were led by Pastor L. E. Floyd. The meeting was held at the Bethel Union School House located at 51st and Lewis Ave. At the first meeting, articles of faith and a church covenant were adopted along with the times of meeting being the first and third Sundays of each month. The Reverend James T. Brattin of Barry Co., Mo. was elected moderator and George Lane of Tulsa, appointed church clerk. Following the meeting the 21 area families were presented as founding membership.
The church continued to meet at Bethel Union School House until 1924 when the congregation voted to purchase 2 ½ acres of land on the southeast corner of 51st and Lewis Ave. A brown brick two story building was constructed that would serve as the place of worship for the members of Bethel Baptist Church for the next 32 years. The church survived tough times during the depression of the 1930's and the 2nd World War. During this period, pastors were hard to find and keep.
Between 1942 and 1952, many changes occurred. There was a mortgage burning in 1944; installation of the first organ in 1947; a parsonage was built on the property in 1950; the first church bus purchased in 1950; the first library started in 1952; and later, in December, 1954, due to a changing world, the first locks were installed on the church building.
The first mention of a possible move to a new location was made in January, 1952 and a committee was appointed to seek a location. A five acre parcel of land at 56th and Lewis Avenue, just a half mile south, was purchased in 1955 for a new building and the name was changed on May 1, 1955 from Bethel Baptist Church to Southern Hills Baptist Church. June 8, 1955 began a period of worship in the "Canvas Cathedral" as the church purchased a 50' x 80' tent for use during the transitional period. The old Bethel Baptist Church site was sold in November 1955 to George Fikes of Fikes Food Stores. Ground breaking for a new sanctuary and educational space at 56th and Lewis took place on April 15, 1956.
A web search turned up a cached photo of Bethel Baptist Church at its old location. From the terrain and shadows, I'm guessing that it faced Lewis and sat some distance south of 51st.
The history above mentions Bethel Union School as the site of the church's founding. The school sat on the northeast corner of 51st and Lewis.
The first newspaper reference I can find to Bethel Union school is on September 14, 1906, in the first anniversary edition of the Tulsa Daily World. The school had hosted a meeting of the Indian Territory Republican committee. The paper called the group "the voice of the farmer" and said that "Republicanism is much in evidence in that part of the country." (The same front page celebrates the awarding of the first street railway franchise in Tulsa to Charles H. Bosler of Dayton with construction of between four to six miles of track for $50,000 to $75,000.
The "remodeled and enlarged" Bethel Union school was dedicated on September 6, 1914. It had been a one-room schoolhouse, but the "public spirited [school board] members" decided to make it a graded school, adding a second room and constructing it so that the two rooms could be joined to serve as an auditorium and host church services on Sundays.
A July 26, 1916, news story reports that the Bethel Union schoolhouse had been damaged by the explosion of a truck carrying nitroglycerin, and the board voted to build a new brick structure to replace the damaged building.
News stories frequently mention the school as the site of agricultural meetings, for example, this "Farmers' Day" meetings hosted by J. P. Harter, the Tulsa County government farmer at Bethel Union and Alsuma schools on December 13, 1912. On July 12, 1913, the school hosted a series of speakers urging good roads for Tulsa County, including Judge L. M. Poe, who was to speak on "good roads without bond issues."
An inset of the 1937 state highway department map of Tulsa County shows Lewis as a paved road leading to Jenks, and, around 51st and Lewis, five businesses, a school (Bethel Union), a church (Bethel Baptist), and numerous gravel and dirt side roads lined with homes. Note that Joe Creek, cutting diagonally from near 51st and Harvard to near 61st and Lewis, was then labeled Jill Creek.
Many years later -- perhaps after consolidation with the Tulsa school district -- Bethel Union School became known as Paul Revere Elementary School. A blogger recalls walking north on Atlanta Place to Paul Revere School and encountering hundreds of monarch butterflies one autumn morning.
My 3rd Grade Little League team played (and almost beat!) Revere's team in the spring of 1972, but because they had no green space big enough for a baseball diamond, we played the game at (if I recall correctly) Heller Park.
While Paul Revere School had been spared demolition in the 1950s -- it was wedged between Skelly Bypass (I-44) and 51st Street -- it was demolished in the 1980s to make way for Western National Bank's tower, which in turn fell to I-44 widening a few years ago.
There are few traces of the existence of the Bethel Union community. Some of the streets -- Columbia Pl., 49th St., 47th St., line up with the 1937 map -- and you may find a few homes along those streets that look to be from that era, old farmhouses that survived the subdivision of their pastures and fields. Similar road patterns can be seen around 11th and Memorial, 11th and 129th East Ave., 11th and Lynn Lane Rd., 61st and Mingo, to name a few that come to mind.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R., Okla.), who just took the reins of the panel, said he is open to considering raising the gas tax as a way to help pay for the dwindling Highway Trust Fund that keeps up the nation's roads and other transportation infrastructure.
"Everything is on the table," Mr. Inhofe said in a Wednesday briefing with reporters to preview his committee agenda. He said his top priority is passing a long-term transportation bill, whose spending runs out at the end of May.
With gasoline prices at lows not seen since 2009, some political observers and business executives say now is the ideal time to raise the 18.4 cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline and the 24.4 cent-a-gallon tax on diesel fuel, which haven't increased since 1993. The taxes are the main source of revenue for the highway trust fund.
Mr. Inhofe didn't say he supports raising the gas tax, and he refutes referring to it as such. "It's not a tax," Mr. Inhofe said. "It's a user fee."
He also said this period of cheap gas isn't really a window of opportunity given it could close sooner than Congress is going to act. "You don't know what's going to happen to the price of gas," Mr. Inhofe said.
It doesn't sound like Sen. Inhofe is gung-ho for boosting the Federal gas tax, but he's more open to the idea than he should be. If the gas tax is collected as a "user fee" for those who travel our interstate highway system, then the money collected should be spent only on the interstate highway system. If lower gas prices create an opportunity to raise gas taxes, leave that to state and local governments, who can then prioritize spending among local needs -- widening local highways, rebuilding bridges, installing sidewalks, building bike lanes, funding mass transit.
Sending locally-collected money to Washington just so congressmen and senators can send it back home is a ridiculous game. The money comes back with strings attached, is often politically directed, and often gets spent on wasteful projects that are only pursued because the money is "federal" and treated like a windfall. (I-40 relocation in Oklahoma City is a prime example.)
I'd love to see our new Republican majorities reduce the federal gas tax and federal diesel tax to what is required to fund upkeep on the two-digit interstates -- the trunk roads that are the backbone for shipment of goods around the US. Then states can choose -- or not -- to raise local fuel taxes to match the cut in federal taxes.
You may notice this blog becoming more of a weblog in the purest sense of the word -- collections of links of interest, logged here mainly for my future reference. With that here are a collection of links and some pull quotes about Al Sharpton and the societal trends that have fueled his rise and sustain his continued clout.
New York Post reports "How Sharpton gets paid to not cry 'racism' at corporations":
"Al Sharpton has enriched himself and NAN for years by threatening companies with bad publicity if they didn't come to terms with him. Put simply, Sharpton specializes in shakedowns," said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal & Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog group that has produced a book on Sharpton.
And Sharpton, who now boasts a close relationship with Obama and Mayor Bill de Blasio, is in a stronger negotiating position than ever.
"Once Sharpton's on board, he plays the race card all the way through," said a source who has worked with the Harlem preacher. "He just keeps asking for more and more money."...
NAN had repeatedly and without success asked GM for donations for six years beginning in August 2000, a GM spokesman told The Post. Then, in 2006, Sharpton threatened a boycott of GM over the planned closing of an African-American-owned dealership in The Bronx. He picketed outside GM's Fifth Avenue headquarters. GM wrote checks to NAN for $5,000 in 2007 and another $5,000 in 2008....
Sharpton landed a gig as a $25,000-a-year adviser to Pepsi after he threatened a consumer boycott of the soda company in 1998, saying its ads did not portray African-Americans. He held the position until 2007.
New York Daily News reported that Walmart, AT&T, and Verizon were among companies donating to Al Sharpton's non-profit at a fundraiser to get the National Action Network out of debt. The fundraiser brought in a projected $1 million.
Newsmax has the list of 16 Facts About Al Sharpton the Media Won't Tell You. It summarizes Sharpton's problems with unpaid taxes, inflammatory language, misuse of non-profit funds, among other issues.
The 70-year-old lawyer was accused of preying on an unconscious 42-year-old woman, a top official in Al Sharpton's National Action Network, in his Upper East Side apartment in October. During an investigation into Rubenstein's home, officials found a prescription for the sex pill Viagra issued in Sharpton's name, a police source told the Daily News.
The Smoking Gun investigates Al Sharpton's years as a confidential informant for the FBI in the agency's investigation of organized crime.
The OCTF investigation, which spanned more than two years, ended in June 1989 with the indictment of five Genovese crime family figures on enterprise corruption charges. But only the younger Pagano ended up in the dock. His father, who had been seriously ill during the course of the OCTF probe, died two months before a grand jury accused his son and other underlings of engaging in mob staples like loan sharking, extortion, and gambling.
Each defendant subsequently pleaded guilty to various criminal charges, so there was no public presentation of evidence against the men. Which meant that OCTF prosecutors did not have to further expound on the indictment's allegation that Daniel Pagano "solicited the use of a bank account of the National Youth Movement" to launder money.
Sharpton, who controlled that bank account, was not charged in connection with the Pagano investigation....
In return for the endorsements, [NY Sen. Alphonse] D'Amato--who was easily reelected--steered a $500,000 federal grant to Curington and Sharpton for the establishment of an anti-drug program in Brooklyn. According to a grant application, Curington, whose prior narcotics experience landed him on a DEA list of "Class 1" traffickers, was slated to serve as the program's executive director. Sharpton and Curington, the application noted, also planned to secure an additional $750,000 in "corporate support" from eight record labels.
The duo's plan foundered, however, when officials at a Brooklyn church changed their mind about allowing a drug treatment facility to operate from a church building. As a result, the $500,000 grant was later canceled.
After 15 years, Tawana Brawley has paid only 1% of what she owes the prosecutor she falsely accused of rape and hate crimes. Sharpton has no regrets:
Her story of being attacked, scrawled with racial slurs, smeared with feces and left beside a road wrapped in a plastic bag made front pages across the nation -- especially after the Rev. Al Sharpton took up her case....
Over the years, critics, politicians and news media have demanded that Sharpton apologize for his role and publicly condemn Brawley. But Sharpton has refused, perpetuating the ill will that many still hold for him.
John Hayward writes about the dependence of collectivism on the presumption of guilt:
This presumption of guilt is absolutely crucial to collectivism. The Left must teach its subjects to think of themselves as criminals. That's the only way law-abiding people will endure levels of coercive power that would normally require specific accusations, a fair trial, and the possibility of appeals. Social-justice "crimes" can be prosecuted without any of those things. There is no appeal from the sentence, and no statute of limitations on the crimes, as any left-winger who thinks today's American citizens need to suffer for the historical offense of slavery will be happy to explain to you. There's no evidence you can present in your defense, for the Left has read your mind, and knows better than you what demons lurk in its recesses....
It's very convenient to declare that you don't have to engage with dissenting ideas because they all drip from forked tongues, but there's more to the liberal presumption of social guilt than that. It also flatters their egos - the Anointed Ones are the only members of society who aren't guilty of prejudice, even when they display the most corrosive prejudice towards the groups they don't like. Most importantly, it illuminates their vision of a righteous elite exercising vast power to force virtue upon miserable, unworthy citizens, who cannot be left unregulated to indulge their monstrous impulses. If you think micro-regulators should be running society, and government should be taxing money away from the proletariat before they hurt themselves with it, then by definition you don't think very much of the people you're planning to tax and regulate. You must see them as thieves, exploiters, and haters... their vision too short, and too clouded with bigotry, to make important decisions about the fate of the nation. Leftists have a boundless appetite for stories that reinforce their low opinion of the people they dominate... and to be honest, some of the dominated are hungry for reassurance that they did the right thing by ceding control of their lives, and the lives of their neighbors, to the Left. People who have relinquished their freedom must learn to think poorly of themselves, if they are to sleep well at night.
It doesn't matter how much evidence there is that some groups work harder in school, perform better, and spend more postgraduate years studying to acquire valuable skills in medicine, science, or engineering. If the economic end results are unequal, that is treated as a grievance against those with better outcomes, and a sign of an "unfair" society.
The rhetoric of clever people often confuses the undeniable fact that life is unfair with the claim that a given institution or society is unfair.
Children born into families that raise them with love and with care to see that they acquire knowledge, values, and discipline that will make them valuable members of society have far more chances of economic and other success in adulthood than children raised in families that lack these qualities....
What is a problem for children raised in families and communities that do not prepare them for productive lives can be a bonanza for politicians, lawyers, and assorted social messiahs who are ready to lead fierce crusades, if the price is right.
Many in the media and among the intelligentsia are all too ready to go along, in the name of seeking equality. But equality of what?
Equality before the law is a fundamental value in a decent society. But equality of treatment in no way guarantees equality of outcomes....
Regardless of the actual causes of different capabilities and rewards in different individuals and groups, political crusades require a villain to attack -- a villain far removed from the voter or the voter's family or community. Lawyers must likewise have a villain to sue. The media and the intelligentsia are also attracted to crusades against the forces of evil.
But whether as a crusade or a racket, a confused conception of equality is a formula for never-ending strife that can tear a whole society apart -- and has already done so in many countries.
Glenn Reynolds examines the appeal of tribalism despite the advantages of civil society:
Tribalism is the default state of humanity: The tendency to defend our own tribe even when we think it's wrong, and to attack other tribes even when they're right, just because they're other. Societies that give in to the temptations of tribalism -- which are always present -- wind up spending a lot of their energy on internal strife, and are prone to disintegrate into spectacular factionalism and infighting, often to the point of self-destruction.
Societies that temper those tribal tendencies, replacing them with the mechanisms of civil society, do much better. But there is much opportunity for political empire-building in tribalism, and if the benefits of stoking tribal fires exceed the costs for political actors, then expect political actors to pour gasoline on even the smallest spark.
That's pretty much what's happened in the last few months, and the results haven't been good. In America, we have both a police culture that is too quick to escalate force, and an aggressive victim culture, embodied by the loathsome Al Sharpton, that seeks to portray every police use of force, at least against members of the wrong racial and ethnic groups, as excessive.
A healthy society would stigmatize, marginalize and shun the tribalizers. Sharpton, who has incited racial violencein the past, would not have a network TV show (even on MSNBC), and would not be treated as a legitimate civil rights spokesman....
In a healthy civil society, people can deal with others without worrying about tribalism, confident that disputes will be settled by neutral and reasonably fair procedures overseen by neutral and fair people. In a tribalized society, what matters is what tribe you belong to, and who is on top at the moment.
Healthy civil societies are a lot better places to live. They're richer, safer and more peaceful. But healthy civil societies don't provide the opportunity for political power grabs, for payoffs and for extortion that tribalized societies do. It's no wonder that so many political figures favor tribalism. The question is, how long will the rest of us allow them to get away with it?
John Hayward on the scandal double-standard, contrasting Congressman Michael Grimm, who is resigning in disgrace, with Al Sharpton:
So Grimm under-reported a million in wages and receipts, and he's being purged from the circles of power, quite possibly en route to the pokey. Al Sharpton owes over four and a half million dollars in actual taxes, and it's no big deal. He can stroll into the White House for countless visits without having to worry about the bloated, politicized Internal Revenue Service nabbing him at the door.